The first gas station in space is a unique program

Without fuel, even a useful artificial satellite becomes useless – it can no longer stay in a certain orbit and begins to gradually decrease or move away from Earth. Losing an expensive and well-functioning satellite for such a trifle is insulting and devastating.

Therefore, last year the creation of the very first “gas station in space” began. The space tanker Tenjin, developed by an American startup, will be able to approach artificial satellites that have exhausted their fuel reserves, dock with them and refuel – just like in the world of cars, only the gas station itself “arrives”.

The artificial satellite Tanker 001 Tenjin, developed by the American startup Orbit Fab, was launched in June last year by a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida (US). This is a small artificial satellite weighing only 35 kg, orbiting in low Earth orbit (altitude from 518 to 544 km).

The other satellite it needs to refuel is flying at the same altitude at 7.5 km/s. Tanker 001 Tenjin targets it with a stereo camera, turns on the engine and comes into the same lane to overtake him.

The first gas station in space is a unique program

Tenjin is equipped with a special RAFTI tank unit. That is, any artificial satellite with the same block can be docked and refueled. However, the diameter of the device is only 75mm and successful refueling requires incredibly precise maneuvering.

The first gas station in space is a unique programTanker 002 Tenjin

Tanker 002 Tenjin

Another tanker, Tanker 002 Tenjin, has an improved design and will carry approximately 90 kg of fuel. This tanker satellite will be launched together with the next moon mission. As a result, it will be in geostationary orbit at an altitude of 35,786 km. At such a height, satellites, regardless of mass, can “float” at a point in the sky – that is, they rotate at the speed of the Earth. This is where all the artificial satellites that observe the Earth are located, as well as communications, broadcasting and military satellites. Many of them are now out of fuel.

Source: Z R

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